Asma Inge-Hanif a Nurse Chaplain & Founder
Asma Inge-Hanif, despite an impoverished background, was the first in her family to attend college, graduated from Howard University College of Nursing and in 1987 established Al-Nisaa Health and Social Services Center in order to provide health services for the underserved and uninsured women and children. Her original incentive was as a response to her maternal grandmother, whom actually worked as a domestic for a physician but lacking healthcare died from a preventable condition. Asma Inge-Hanif is the daughter of John T. Inge, a native of Danville Virginia, one of the last surviving original Montford Point Marines, whom himself is the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and in whose honor her organization is named.
She credits her continued inspiration and motivation to help others to her father as his sacrifice on behalf of everyone provided the path toward civil rights and social justice for all immigrating to this country. Asma Hanif is herself a champion for positive social change through advocacy information and service. In 2018 she was awarded the: National Safe Place Network’s Culture of Respect Award – given to: “those who champion the cause of justice and equality.”
Her mother was the first in her immediate family to graduate from high school and insisted that her daughter exceed her in education. Chaplain Hanif states that as far back as she can remember her mother stated her “Go to school to be a nurse because when people are hurting they don’t care what color you are”. From that moment education became a priority in her life. Following her mothers advice she managed to rise up out of the impoverished life which had handicapped the generations before her. For this reason she did not just want to ‘shelter’ those whom their circumstances forced them upon her path but rather give to them as her mother had given to her which is an incentive and the opportunity to become self-sufficient through achieving a higher education.
What other characteristics has your Hero demonstrated to support this nomination?
She operates solely on donations and the numbers she is able to help is directly proportional to the amount of support, (financial or in-kind) received. Based on the circumstances, there are many needs requiring many solutions. Nurse Hanif states that our most vulnerable populations need to know that they have not been forgotten which is why she is also seeking the means to replenish her food stores which not only serve the shelters but also those in the community experiencing financial poverty for any reason – especially our elderly.
Noting the disparities and based on the prevailing statistical data, true to her nature, she was compelled to serve those in need as a humanitarian solution for those in communities without viable options. Recognizing current programs disproportionately distributed services and fail low income, marginalized, uninsured and/or homeless, referencing their circumstances, Hanif implemented a solution. She stated, “vulnerable populations need to know that they have not been forgotten” including those in the community experiencing financial poverty for any reason- especially our elderly. Without staff and unsalaried, Hanif lives in the shelter she established as she says doing so increases the numbers she is able to serve. In the past she had always done so using her own resources and that of a few like minded individuals willing to donate, however, on this occasion, she stated that has now used up all her supplies but also do not have the money or the ability to obtain the all that is necessary to care for these our most vulnerable populations.
Although others are the ones receiving financial support they are not providing one on one services in these vulnerable populations. And although she requested to be a testing site, money and supplies were given to ‘name brand’ places whom neither service nor are accessible to those in her community. Without phones, computers, television or internet most are also unaware of resources or mandates, nor even able to travel to where services are. Hanif’s center is actually in one of the identified ‘hot spot’ zip codes but where there are no other services. Stated Hanif, “I distributed face masks and gloves to those in need until I had no more.” Because she saw that individuals were fearful of being approached, she had even driven around and distributed face masks to those homeless and begging on street corners. She is making calls to the thousands of those whom she has helped through the years. She shared this; “I was able to reach Mrs Ramirez’s family (who was home with symptoms but no provider). As a nurse practitioner, Hanif wrote her a referral for the test which did indeed end up being positive for the virus. Since Ms Ramirez is married with 2 children, Hanif engaged in contact tracking and discovered all those whom members of her family had been in contact with.
It was discovered that her husband was positive as well as an uncle whom based on his symptoms Hanif insisted that he go immediately to the ER. Not only was he positive but was so sick that he was hospitalized and ended up being placed in a coma and thus Hanif’s intervention possibly saved his life. However, on May 18th, after FOX45 reported the first child to die from COVID-19 in the state of Maryland she was actually related to one of those whom had been called by Hanif. Hanif was saddened feeling that had she had supplies and/or the ability to perform the test, then perhaps this could have been a life saved through her effort. Although even without the necessary grant and stimulus support afforded others, in her effort to flatten the curve, and at critical risk to herself without PPE, she used her already established health center in the nations response to this Pandemic crisis, serving as a resource site and a care provider for those unable to be and/or not being served by those outside of and distanced from any available services. She is currently a coronavirus victim and based on her age, ethnicity and socio-economic status, is among those statistically not likely to survive. Those without money or a personal home are sentenced to a COVID Care center shelter filled with others of lower social-economic status. Sadly she relates that because response disparities exist, are we really “All in this together? Unfortunately these disparities has caused her to lose a shelter location, reduced the number of those whom she can provide care and the possibility exists that without being granted the necessary funding afforded others, after 45 years may be forced to close.
Describe the impact of your Hero on a local, regional, national, and/or international level.
Hanif believes, “Too often, girls who could change their world for the better, are locked out of that future by the circumstances of her birth or the customs of her community and/or her country. Her goal is to facilitate the rescue and housing of those whom escaped from a country/communities where girls are devalued, brought, sold and abused.
She wants for Muslimat Al Nisaa Shelter to continually be there for her, providing not just a refuge from abuse but also the basic human needs to survive. According to Chaplain Hanif, “Violence against women is a human rights violation. It is a shameful abomination for any communities that fail to prevent it and any societies that not only tolerate but also in fact perpetuate it. It must be eliminated through all sectors of society. An effective response to violence must be wholistic; addressing the immediate practical needs of women experiencing abuse; providing long-term care and assistance; and focusing on changing those cultural norms, attitudes and legal provisions that promote acceptance. “Through Inge Benevolent Ministry’s Outreach Programs Hanif has been answering the call of people in need for over 45 years, as a nurse and champion for the underprivileged. She cares for the homeless and uninsured. Asma Hanif has established several community outreach events which, inspired by her commitment to equality and hope, many volunteers join in her mission.
Is there anything else about your Hero that you would like the committee to consider?
Engaging the community through the use of volunteers she provides free blood pressure screenings in community centers for the elderly and provides first aid stations at community health events. This volunteers work includes but not limited to volunteer health services in public schools, providing health services to the homeless, to women in shelters, to those in group homes, to those in foster care, and performing physicals to the mentally and physically challenged – allowing them to be able to participate in the Special Olympics. When the city canceled nurse’s contracts in Baltimore inner-city schools, she volunteered to provide onsite physicals and immunizations to unvaccinated students through the Vaccines for Children program so students could stay in school, and off the streets. She also provides the physicals for Baltimore city children with special needs so they can participate in the Special Olympics.
Realizing that many immigrants are afraid of consequences associated with accessing services, her work is specifically designed to target those areas where those whom have immigrated to this country would not be singled out but rather included as part of the norm such as her volunteering health services in public schools. Through her Chili Bowl Sunday event, extending an invitation for others to share in this humanitarian response to the less fortunate in our communities,’ volunteers are required to either bring a pot of chili or prepare gender specific personal hygiene kits or warm clothing or perform health screenings such as blood pressure checks, diabetes and HIV testing. Hanif refuses to allow anyone present to be made to feel less than anyone else and to further ensure that this is demonstrated, she insists that every volunteer must also socialize and also enjoy a hot bowl of chili with whom she terms, “our honored guests”.
Their Annual Community Outreach programs are, Chili Bowl Sunday, Red Nose Day, ‘Back To School Health Fairs’ for the homeless and the uninsured and her ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ food pantry and distribution of clothing to anyone in need also provide student volunteers to obtain their community service hours necessary to graduate impacting the community through these outreach efforts.
Asma Hanif believes in a just world free from poverty and reaches out to the homeless, the uninsured, the undocumented, the impoverished and those living in low income housing. Most notable is their Annual Red Nose Day event. Red Nose Day is a national event dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty. She recognized that although millions of dollars are raised, the local children derived no benefit. Therefore, in conjunction with this national event, they provides healthy snacks, school supplies and dental hygiene kits to 475 elementary/middle within an inner city impoverished neighborhood. In addition, as an added incentive to strive for academic excellence, toys are given to all of those whom have made the honor roll in their school.
During the riots in Baltimore, Hanif’s charity helped those who slipped through the headlines. While one mother was suffering from the senseless death of her son, another was forced to witness the senseless loss of her home. A mother of a 7 year old special needs son, was rendered homeless as rioters destroyed and torched a neighboring business. Sadly, the flame spread and this mother was forced to watch her home and belongings burn for hours. And so as one mother to another, and someone working with the devastating effects of homelessness, Asma Hanif stated that she could feel her pain. As the police were preparing to board up the property and place ‘condemned’ signs, Asma Hanif pleaded for a few minutes to allow she and the mother to be able to go inside and retrieve precious and sentimental items such as family albums which had not been totally destroyed. She also prepared care packages with food and store gift cards for this homeless mother along with replacement of her son’s wheelchair which was also destroyed in the fire.